By Kayla Caldwell
Imagine you’re a cab driver, on a long road, in the dark of night. If, like me, you hate driving - suspend your disbelief for a few moments. Here’s the scene: you pick up a fare and exchange pleasantries. Overall you’re having a very nice drive. Then, all of a sudden, everything goes dark - and when you turn around, your fare is gone. But they’re not on the road. You can’t see them in the rearview mirror. They’re just gone. What the hell just happened?
That is the premise for the latest release from Dread Central Presents, “The Fare.” Not only did I get to see this film at the Los Angeles premiere, but I had the chance to talk to a few of the people integral in bringing it to life.
Brinna Kelly, who plays the mysterious vanishing passenger, also wrote the script for “The Fare.” The inspiration for the movie was purely happenstance. See, Kelly - a fan of the macabre, just like us! - was up late, bored, looking for a creepy article to pique her curiosity.
As if on cue, D.C. Hamilton, the director of “The Fare,” sent her an email asking her to check out a spooky link he had come across. It was about how, in Japan, after the Fukushima Plant disaster, a lot of cab drivers were reporting phantom fares. People would get in their cabs, looking very disoriented and confused, and asking to go home. But then at some point during the ride, they would just disappear!
And this was not an isolated incident. More than one cabbie reported this occurrence. Hamilton noted in his email, “This could be an interesting horror film.” And the rest is history.
Kelly was inspired immediately, because it reminded her of “The Twilight Zone,” something she’d always wanted to emulate in her own film. The fact that she loves science fiction, fantasy, and the time loop mechanism in films didn’t hurt, either. “I think that’s a great framing mechanism for a story. And I really wanted to do something new and fresh with it,” she told us.
Hamilton revealed to us that “The Fare” was initially supposed to be much more of a horror film than it turned out to be. Think of that urban legend where the passenger disappears after driving past a graveyard. But Kelly’s vision steered the ship in another direction, so to speak, ending with more of a sci-fi, time-traveling romance vibe.
If you’re thinking “The Fare” is sort of a “Channel Zero,” born out of a love for Creepy Pastas, that wouldn’t quite capture the story. Hamilton admits creepy reddit threads are not exactly his cup of tea. Finding the phantom fares story was truly a case of being in the right place (Yahoo) at the right time. Either way, it certainly worked out for Kelly.
When asked why she chose to embody Penny in the film herself, she joked, “Well, I could afford me!” Her comedic flair could definitely be felt throughout the film, as a bit of relief amid the suspense and drama.
What she does warn about starring in your own movie is, “Don’t be super cocky about knowing your own lines, just because you wrote them. When it’s a time loop movie, and the lines are subtly different each time, yeah, you may not know those lines as well as you think you do." She gave all the credit to her co-star, Gino Anthony Pesi, who she said had the lines memorized down to the appropriate punctuation, right off the bat.
Pesi was unfortunately out of town during the premiere, but we did also get to speak to Jason Stuart, who voices the cab dispatcher in the film. The actor, who experienced his first really big voice role with “The Fare,” revealed that he took inspiration for his gravelly, New York accent from Robert De Niro in 1976’s “Taxi Driver.”
Despite never appearing onscreen, Stuart is a huge part of the film. In fact, as the movie progresses, it becomes more and more apparent just how important he really is. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that the story took a turn I was definitely not expecting.
As for what that turn is, well, you’ll just have to see for yourself. “The Fare” is available on Blu-ray and VOD, starting November 19.